Ben Davis’ 30 observations on what the church doesn’t do but should

Earlier I wrote about my April training block and briefly mentioned Ben Davis’ session on Thursday on what he had observed the church didn’t but should do. These are essentially copied from my notes and are therefore the briefest overview of all that he said. I apologise if they’re not detailed enough in places.

Anyway, here’s those observations – may they challenge you and lead you to soft-heartedness, not cold-heartedness!

1 Talk to people

Ben talked about many times at church he saw guests completely ignored or where he himself – as a guest – had been overlooked. Come early to a Sunday service just to be the welcoming face for new people.

2 Listen to the message

Be disciplined, and be open to hearing something that may be a life-changer. You didn’t come to listen to someone else, so tell back-row talkers to clam up!

3 Attend meetings

Jesus may turn up and you’ll miss that encounter – and what better reason would you have for not being there? John 20:19-24 shows how ‘doubting Thomas’ came to be called that by missing a meeting.

4 Arrive on time

Be disciplined. It’s maturity.

5 Be involved

Force yourself to get into the mix – show up, sit at the front, serve. Don’t hide.

6 Speak the truth in love

This is essential for relationships, especially if you want to make good ones. And don’t shy away from truth – hearing it and telling it makes for better relationships with people. But also treat people well – be practical, offer them your seat, serve them, make much of them.

7 You are the church

When you’re complaining about a church – stop and remember that YOU are the church. Don’t demand that ‘the church’ changes, when YOU are the church and should  be changing things yourself! Own the problems and commit to effecting the solution.

8 Reach out to the lost

Reach out in your prayers, in your thinking, physically… Get into their world, observe and engage with them. Don’t let the lost become alien to you, or your church is no longer a church but a social club.

9 Identify with the poor

Identify with those who are poorer economically, educationally, socially; who are poorer in morals, in clothing… Be willing to cross the class divide and remember Jesus’ words:

“When you give a dinner or a banquet, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbours, lest they also invite you in return and you be repaid. But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the just.” Luke 14:12-14

It’s uncomfortable for the poor to enter our world, with its unfamiliar rules and ways of doing things, so suck up your own discomfort and reach out. We should know people who need someone to stand up for them.

10 Think

Always ask – why do we do it this way? Why not that way? What’s the reason for this way of doing things? How do I apply this message? Be people who don’t accept things blindly, but actively engage with things, question them, and know the reason for the hope that you have (1 Pt 3:15).

11 Be generous with your money

Tip at the very least 10%, buy drinks for others when you go out, don’t be dissuaded by others to use your money generously.

12 Be self-aware

Know who you are – what are your giftings? Personality type? Temperament? Ask people who know you (and love you) to tell you their opinions. This saves you from making mistakes, from wrong expectations. Don’t live in denial, but also don’t forget to question others’ opinions either. Don’t be ignorant of your strengths and weaknesses.

13 Avoid the status rush

If your priority is to climb the status ladder, you will always pass Jesus on a ladder going down.

14 Clothing

Wear what looks good on you. Be careful about what’s driving you to dress how you do.

15 Content before style

It’s not how you do anything so much as what you’re doing that’s most important.

16 Differentiate between spirit and flesh

The Spirit gives life, the flesh yields nothing eg. is your humour there to build up or break down?

17 Work hard & be committed to ‘grubbing’

Successful men and women are hard workers – in marriages, jobs, school, etc. Be willing to muck in and do the unpleasant job. If you want to build anything lasting, work hard and stay committed to it.

18 Honour your parents

It’s in the Bible. What reason is there to disobey it? Thank them, keep in touch – phone once a week.

19 Youth does not last

Do what you’re able to do now while you can still do it.

20 If you fall – in Jesus’ name, get back up again!

Don’t blame your past for anything – “He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world” (1 John 4:4).

21 Develop good habits

Be habitually thankful, kind and good-natured towards others, the first to talk, healthy, setting the pace, active in the church audience (Ben likes an ‘AMEN!’ or ‘Halleluhjah!’ in a sermon).

22 Do not judge.

23 Exercise faith in God

For your future spouse, for money, for anything! be asking him for what you need.

24 A Kingdom of God culture is more important than national, family or personal culture

Every country has a different culture, and every culture says ‘no’ to God’s culture – so learn to bend and break areas where your culture disagrees with Kingdom culture.

25 Mix planning and spontaneity

God doesn’t move between two straight lines, but neither should we expect to be swept this way and that.

26 To do anything well, prepare well

It’s an insult to people who have asked you to do something when you haven’t prepared well.

27 You are meant to be different

You came out of the womb unique, but most people die copies. You see people who truly are themselves often carry the presence of God powerfully. Remember that you are elected, anointed and sent – you, as you were made by God – so go for it.

28 Fight cliques

If cliques were the way to do things, we would never exist – the Father, Son and Holy Spirit would be pretty satisfied with each others’ company. Fight cliques around class, who you invite to things, who you compliment, who you greet, your preferences for company.

29 You have a destiny

Live for it, pray for it, cry over it, spend money on it, lose friends over it, agonise over it. God plucked you from the gates of hell for more than a life of slowly easing your way into heaven. Do what’s already at hand while you’re en route to your destiny.

30 You’re just a servant

You’re not wonderful – you’re just a servant. But that makes you wonderful. The world is crying out for people who come just to serve.

Hope that’s helpful and challenging to some of you. What really came across from Ben was the need for the church (you and me!) to step out in everything – in relationships, in faith, in maturity.